Classification of Rice
Rice is commonly classified by grain length. These classifications include short-grain, medium-grain, and long-grain. Short-grain rice is typically used in risotto preparation. Medium-grain and long-grain rice are more dry and fluffy during preparation.
Forms of Rice
Rice comes in a variety of forms based upon its type and processing. These forms include white rice, converted rice, instant rice, brown rice, glutinous rice, specialty rice, rice bran, and wild rice. White rice is the most common of all rice.
White rice has been milled to remove the husk, bran, and germ. In doing this, a large portion of the nutrients have also been lost. In order to provide greater nutritional value, white rice is often enriched with additional nutrients.
Converted rice is long grain rice that has been soaked, steamed under pressure, and then dried before milling. Converted rice is a popular choice for food service environments due to the grains staying firm and separate after cooking.
Instant rice has been cooked then dehydrated. Instant rice takes only minutes to prepare though quality suffers.
Brown rice has only had the hull removed leaving the bran and germ on the endosperm. This results in greater fiber content and a tougher texture when eaten.
Glutinous rice is sweeter and stickier than traditional white rice due to its higher starch content. It is easily shaped and molded making it ideal for rice cakes and sushi.
Specialty rice is long grain varieties that have a nuttier taste than traditional rice. They are typically more expensive and not enriched. Common varieties include basmati, jasmine, Texmati, Wehani, and wild pecan/popcorn rice.
Rice bran is the bran from the grain. It has a slightly different taste and shorter shelf life than the more popular oat bran.
Wild rice is technically not a grain. It is a reed-like water plant harvested in the Great Lakes region of the United States. It is commonly added to brown rice increasing the protein and nutrient content by almost twice the amount found in white rice.
Amy Brown, Understanding Food: Principles & Preparation, 3rd ed. (Wadsworth, 2008)